One of The Platta Law Firm, PLLC’s signature cases, Wilinski v. 334 East 92nd Housing Development Fund Corp., which was decided by New York’s highest court, has powerfully improved the protections construction workers have under the law. Every day, new cases are handed down, in which plaintiff construction workers are able to survive defendant’s summary judgment motions (which they previously would have lost) because of the expansion of Labor Law §240 under Wilinski.
In one recent Second Department case, an employee of a superstructure contractor was injured while he was stripping wooden forms that had served as frames into which concrete had been poured to form the reinforced concrete columns of a building under construction. Plaintiff testified the incident occurred after he piled a piece of wooden form from the concrete column and placed it on the floor. As he stood up, a separate piece of the form situated above the piece he just removed suddenly fell off the column, striking him in the face.
The Court of Appeals has held the purpose of Labor Law §240 is to protect against such specific gravity-related accidents as falling from a height or being struck by a falling objected that are inadequately secured, a ruling that was strengthened by the Wilinski decision. The Court applied this principle (citing Wilinski) to the case with the superstructure contractor. The defendants could not prove that the form that fell and struck the plaintiff worker was properly secured, and thus could not prove that they did not violate Labor Law §240.
In a recent case in the First Department, an electrician was working at a job site where the general contractor was gutting and remodeling a commercial space. The electrician was injured when he was struck in the hand by a piece of galvanized steel conduit pipe. The pipe had been attached to another piece of pipe by a compression coupling at the ceiling before it fell. At the time of the accident, the electrician was engaged in moving a pool box, a device used to access telecommunication wires. The box was connected to a section of conduit piping running from the floor to the ceiling, as well as to a support system known as Kindorf supports. After cutting the conduit to remove the pencil box, plaintiff kneeled down to drill into the floor in order to reposition the conduit and the pencil box, when the piece of conduit that was secured to the other pipe came loose and fell upon him.
The electrician argued that he requested but was not provided with a set screw coupling to secure the conduit pipe to the ceiling, and that the defendants failed to do so caused his injuries. The electrician argued that defendants’ failure to provide the coupling meant that the conduit was not “secured for the undertaking.” The defendants argued that the Kindorf supports were proper protective devices and thus they did not need to provide the coupling that the electrician requested. Specifically, because of the Wilinski decision (which the Court cited directly), the Court held there was a question of fact as to whether the defendants’ properly secured the conduit for the electrician’s work.
It should be noted just how important defeating a defendant’s motion for summary judgment is. When a defendant is successful on a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff’s claim is dismissed against that defendant. By defeating a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff can still settle the case or take the case to trial and recover a monetary award. So cases, like Wilinski, which The Platta Law Firm, PLLC, fought tooth and nail, directly helps ensure that plaintiff construction worker’s recover on their cases